Reserve drill sergeants volunteer to train Afghan counterparts
June 4, 2009
By Lyndsey Born
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- More than half of Military Transition Team Class 70 is made up of drill sergeants, all Reserve Soldiers from the 95th Division. The group volunteered for the mission to mentor members of the Afghan police and Army.
The 24 drill sergeants and 12 support staff will be the sixth group from the 95th to head to Afghanistan.
The mission that has been assigned is drill sergeant specific because the drill sergeants will be mentors for the Afghan Drill Sergeant School and at basic combat training sites, said Col. Rodolfo Villarreal, operations officer for the 95th.
The drill sergeants left civilian careers and family members to mobilize to Oklahoma City, Okla., for their Soldier Readiness Processing before they came to Fort Riley, Villarreal said.
Outside of the Army, Command Sgt. Maj. Manuel Borrego is a captain in the Wichita Falls, Texas, police department. This will be his first deployment into a war zone.
"I have been in the Army for a long time, and most of it has been during peace time. This is an opportunity for me to do my part over there, to take my turn and work for my country," Borrego said.
For another volunteer, Staff Sgt. Clayton Gorton, this will be his second deployment.
"It's my job to serve my country, and I just wanted to do my part again," Gorton said. "I have a lot of friends who volunteered for this mission. I wanted to go with them to help train the Afghan Army."
Villarreal was on hand to observe the class during its last week before graduation and said the drill sergeants are ready for their deployment.
"They got pretty much all of the training they are going to need for overseas," Villarreal said. "As drill sergeants we are the primary trainers and uniquely outfitted to be the trainers in theater, especially with the Afghan Soldiers."
The drill sergeants graduated from their training May 28 at Camp Funston. A short ceremony was held for family members and friends to see the Soldiers before they deployed.
Maj. Gen. Charles Gorton, commander of 81st Regional Support Command, attended to watch his son, Staff Sgt. Clayton Gorton, graduate with Class 70.
"I feel ambiguous about it. As a Soldier I am really proud of him, and I am confident he will do well. He has been trained well," Maj. Gen. Gorton, said. "On the other hand, as a father, you always feel some trepidation about sending your son off into harm's way, so it's kind of hard, but I am real proud of him."
After graduation, Sgt. 1st Class Bryce Holmes said, he never thought he would be training and mentoring Afghan Soldiers.
"My goal was to become a drill sergeant to train our troops," Holmes said. "I would like to see a third world country to be able to be more productive themselves. I think going over and being able to train their Army will be a great experience."
For two years, Holmes said, he has been trying to deploy to give active duty Soldiers a break.
Although, he said, he is ready to deploy, he is nervous to leave his family. The youngest of Holmes three children thinks he is leaving to get monsters, he said.